DETROIT — An 18-year-old Detroit man convicted of tying up two people hours before they were shot and left inside a car was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday. It's one of the first cases since the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory no-parole punishments for killings committed under age 18.
Taywon Williams likely will be eligible for a parole hearing in 30 years. Michigan was one of 28 states that had automatic no-parole sentences for juveniles, but those laws recently were struck down by the Supreme Court, which considered it cruel punishment for kids who were being treated the same as adults, despite lacking social and emotional maturity.
Williams was 17 last year when a Beckley, W.Va., man was bound with duct tape and shot during a drug deal. Someone else pulled the trigger in William Abrams' death, but authorities said Williams participated by tying up Abrams and another man, Jeff Herron of Detroit.
"I forgive him," said Herron, 25, who was shot but survived.
On July 2, nine days after the Supreme Court decision, Williams was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder, torture and unlawful imprisonment.
Williams' attorney, Luther Glenn, acknowledged the facts of the case "were quite troubling." He nonetheless urged Wayne County Judge Ulysses Boykin to set a prison term of years for the murder instead of life in prison, noting the high court's decision.
"This wasn't a situation where my client acted alone," Glenn said.
But Boykin said Williams still would get a life sentence, even if he had been convicted of second-degree murder.
"To state that the offenses committed here were horrible is an understatement," the judge said.
Williams declined to speak in court. His brother, Terry Dumas, who was 19 at the time of Abrams' death, faces life in prison with no chance for parole for the same crimes.
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Abrams, 23, had worked in a coal mine and was accepted to Marshall University. His aunt, Carolyn Amar of Beckley, W.Va., asked the judge to sentence Williams to life in prison so he has "something to think about." She said her family was shattered by the killing.
"Williams' conduct demonstrates a person who, however young, is capable of premeditated and sadistic criminal conduct almost beyond imagination," assistant prosecutor Michael Harrison said in a court filing. "Rehabilitation, if possible, will be an extremely long process."
Glenn said Williams probably would come up for a parole hearing after serving 30 years for crimes associated with the murder.
"He could still have a very meaningful life," the attorney said.